Weight Loss Myths and Realities

Weight loss surgery is in the news almost daily. You may hear everything from glowing reports of saved lives to horror stories about surgeries gone wrong. No doubt you know people who have had the surgery or you know someone who knows someone who has had the surgery, with that comes miscommunications and sometimes data that is not exactly accurate or is incorrectly attributed to one procedure rather than another. Here are some myths about weight loss surgery that you may have heard. Hopefully this will dispel some of those myths and set the record straight.

Bariatric surgery will make you thin

Weight loss surgical procedure can help patients lose up to 40 to 80 percent of excess body mass depending on the type of surgery. Patients who are 150 pounds overweight are likely to remain at least 50 pounds overweight at the end of the process. Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy usually produce in average better weight loss (50-80% of excess weight), while Gastric Banding 40-60%. Excess weight is a difference between actual and ideal weight. Ideal weight is calculated from special tables.

All bariatric surgery involves “stomach stapling”

There are many different types of gastrointestinal procedures for weight loss, some of which reduce the functioning size of the stomach and others that bypass parts of the digestive tract, reducing absorption of calories and nutrients. Different types of surgeries offer different results, and some are more suitable for particular people than others. Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass, Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy and Laparoscopic Gastric Banding are considered the most effective and safe, and consist the majority of weight loss procedures performed in the United States.

You can’t get pregnant after weight loss surgery

Many patients have trouble getting pregnant prior to surgery and find that they’re very fertile following surgery. This is good news if you want to have children — or it may be bad news if you don’t. Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy following weight loss surgery is very possible. Patients are much less at risk during pregnancy because their other health problems have lessened or disappeared. After your weight is back to normal, and assuming you don’t have any other health problems, you can expect to have a normal delivery.
If you’re a woman of childbearing age, use two forms of birth control for one year following surgery. During that first year, you aren’t eating enough to nourish yourself plus a growing fetus, so you don’t want to get pregnant then. Besides, you want to concentrate on your own weight loss during that first year. Better safe than sorry.

You’ll be happy after surgery

Unhappy people come in all shapes and sizes. Losing weight does not guarantee happiness. That said, you will find many rewards — both physical and emotional — when you reach a normal weight. You’ll have a stronger sense of self-esteem, and your health problems will be much more under control. But weight loss surgery won’t solve all your problems, and you don’t want to go into it thinking it will.

Weight loss surgery is very risky

Many people associate weight loss surgery with a very high risk of death, but that is just not the reality. The death rate associated with weight loss surgery is considered to be one-half of 1 percent, when an experienced surgeon performs the surgery. That is well below the risk of death after most commonly performed surgical procedures like removal of large intestine, heart surgery or lung surgery. Also consider the health risks of staying morbidly obese. You may be at far greater risk staying that way than you will be having surgery.

You have to pay for weight loss surgery yourself

You may have to pay for your own weight loss surgery, but weight loss surgery is often covered by insurance. Even though, in recent years, insurance companies have become more demanding in their screening of patients, the vast majority of surgeries are covered. If anyone where you work has had weight loss surgery, check with him about what experience he had with insurance coverage. You’ll get a sense of what, if anything, you may be up against. If you have the same insurance company as one of your friends but you aren’t on the same plan, your insurance could be entirely different. One company may list the surgery as an exclusion for its employees, while another company that uses the same insurance company may not. Just be sure to talk with your insurance company beforehand so you know what costs, if any, will be involved.

Bariatric Surgery is very expensive

It is not cheap, but with weight loss full return of cost is expected in 5 years by reducing expenses on medications, disability, hospital care and other health care related issues. Lap-Band® is the only Band approved for use in the United States.

Two gastric bands are approved for use in the United States: Lap-Band® (Allergan) and Realize® (Johnson & Johnson). Multiple studies in Europe and in the United States did not find any difference between these 2 bands in terms of success rate and complications. Both them equally effective in inducing significant weight loss and both them considered to be safe.

People who are very obese cannot have Gastric Band surgery

It is another myth that patients who are what is called “super obese” which is a BMI over 50 are better served by the gastric bypass. While this may be the case in some patients it is important to know that Gastric banding is extremely effective with patients who have a BMI over 50. With the bariatric surgery weight loss can be rapid and unhealthy. The average weight loss using after bariatric surgery is just 2-4 pounds a week; this is just a bit above what you may be able to lose on a regular diet. This weight loss rate usually does not cause any adverse effects. Obviously, if weight lost is faster, that may happen shortly after surgery, nutritional and vitamin supplements are prescribed by your bariatric surgeon.

You can only have a liquid diet

Again untrue. However where this myth probably comes from is the fact that many Bariatric surgeons will have you go on a liquid diet for one to two weeks before surgery in order to allow for the liver to shrink and for the actual procedure to be easier to perform. Once you have the weight loss procedure you will be slowly moved from a liquid diet post operatively and then moved back to a regular diet. The difference being that you will feel full sooner and thereby lose the weight.

Follow-up care is not necessary

Nothing could be further from the truth. Weight loss surgery is not a surgery that is done and then you never have to see the doctor again. In fact after your surgery your doctor may require you to come back monthly to monitor your success in order to allow you to continue to be successful in your quest for your ideal body weight. When looking for a doctor who does the Bariatric Surgery be sure to inquire about their follow up care program.

Patients after weight loss surgery have a lower quality of life

Many studies have been performed and they show that patient after weight loss surgery have had an increased quality of life due to their ease of mobility following their weight loss, their reduced illnesses like sleep apnea, diabetes and hypertension. Only minority of patients (3-5%) have issues related to indigestion, usually mild in nature.

Bariatric surgery is extremely dangerous

Although potential complications such as pneumonia, blood clots and even death are real concerns, a number of recent advances have helped to minimize risks. The recent 1200 patient comparative study showed an “early complication rate” (first week after operation) of 4.2% with bypass and 1.7% with banding. “Late complications” (the first 18 months after operation) occurred in 8.1% with bypass and 9.1% with banding. In addition, having the procedure may assist patients in overcoming otherwise life-threatening conditions associated with obesity, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.